I talked yesterday about my sadness over my Mamaw being in heaven while I am still left here on earth. As a Christian, I know what awaits me at the end of my life, and I admit there has been more than once that I have thought about rushing that finishing line. I see my future here on earth; I see what grave condition I’m in. I realize that I will die somehow, someday. It may be peaceful, surrounded by loved ones who hold my hand and pray over me. It may come suddenly and unexpectedly. It may even come violently and traumatically. This is not for me to know, but either way, it ends in my dying. If I focus on that, I will see no reason to stick around here on earth. Why not just take matters into my own hands and avoid all the unknown options and just speed up my acceptance into heaven? (Yes, I realize that suicide is viewed by some as an unforgivable sin. I happen to disagree, although I don’t advocate it at all. Our lives are not in our own hands, and we have no right to try to play God. It is not for us to decide when we will live and when we will die.)
If I focus instead of why God has left me here, on His purpose for my still being here, I understand why it hurts sometimes, and why it’s hard, and what I am to focus on doing. (I fear I’m not doing a very good job, but that’s for another post.)
I am to reflect God to an unseeing world. Some people, believe it or not, don’t see God when the seasons change or when a baby is born. Some people don’t see God when they look upon mountains or the ocean. I know. I used to be one of them. But enough people reflected God to me that it eventually became easier for me to take that initial leap of faith. I am to do this now for my unseeing friends.
There was a story I read a few years ago on the FamilyLife forums about a group of ladies doing a bible study on the book of Malachi. When they came to Malachi 3:3, which says “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness”, they wanted to learn more about how silver is refined. One of the ladies went to a silversmith to watch him work. He held the silver in the fire for a long time, taking it out everyone once in a while to gaze into it, If unsatisfied with what he saw, he would hold the silver in the fire a little longer, and then check it again. The lady asked the man, “What are you looking for? How do you know when the silver has been purified?” The man replied, “When I see my reflection in it.”
How many times have we sat in church and sung about God purifying us? I know I have. And when I sing it, I mean it. I really want to be purified. But when I stop and ponder what that might look like, I get a little nervous. I guess while I’m singing, I think God will just purify me automatically without any real burning away of impurities. Like they’ll just disappear on their own. But that’s not how it works. Life here on earth isn’t meant to be easy. It’s gonna hurt. It just is. There are periods of clarity and non-resistance, but sooner or later, you will be held in the fire by the knowing hand of our Lord. He knows how much we can stand. He also knows how much it’s going to take for us to start reflecting Him to our neighbors here. He does this carefully and with skill. We don’t need to be afraid, and we most certainly don’t need to resist it. I know I’ve prayed thousands of times for my kids to not have to go through the fire, but it’s unrealistic to think that we can avoid it. How we handle ourselves during our refinery will be a testament in itself. Do we trust God through the process or are we trying with all our might to wiggle out of His hands? I’ve done both and seen people’s reactions to both. It is amazing how God reveals Himself through the faithfulness and good attitudes of His followers. I pray that I never let anyone down in that department and that I can keep a proper perspective during my times in the flames.